Regardless of the battery model, it must be charged periodically. In the car, the charge is spent on powering electronic components, such as the climate control system, and it is also vital for starting the engine. When driving long distances, the built-in generator converts the energy of the motor shaft into electrical energy and charges the battery. Nevertheless, full discharge is possible — just forget to turn off “dimensions”.
Types of batteries and charging methods
Today, the vast majority of batteries belong to one of two categories: calcium and hybrid batteries. In order for the battery to last as long as possible, you need to follow the charging rules for a specific model. Defining parameters for the charger: the range of output voltage and current.
For hybrid batteries, the rated voltage is indicated on the label and takes one of two values: 12 or 24 V. The output voltage of the charger must be 10-20% higher than the nominal value, otherwise charging will be extremely slow. For comparison, the output voltage of the generator on machines with a 12-volt battery is 13.5-14V.
The most common cause of battery failure is plate sulfation. A coating of lead compounds forms on the conductive plates, which leads to a significant decrease in capacitance. To avoid sulfation you need to follow two simple rules:
- Regularly recharge the battery (experts recommend doing this at least once a month). Long-term operation on an almost discharged battery (especially when the engine starts cold or when driving in traffic jams when the generator does not have time to start) changes the ratio of positively and negatively charged ions on the plates, stimulating the formation of plaque;
- Adhere to the “10% principle”: if the battery capacity is, for example, 20 Ah, then the charging current should be at least 2 A, i.e. 10% of the capacity.
For models with a calcium battery, the nominal value is 15-16V, and the actual voltage at the generator output is 16.5 V.
The charging method is also important. To convert the generator voltage, 2 technologies are used: transformer and pulse charging. In the first case, the design of inductors induces a voltage multiple of the input voltage at the input of the rectifier unit, from where a constant charging current enters the battery. These models practically eliminate sudden voltage drops during long-term charging and are suitable for sensitive calcium batteries.
Pulse chargers are characterized by a low price and high compactness, but they are characterized by a high deviation from the nominal current and voltage. Nevertheless, modern pulse charging systems are stable enough for use with both hybrid and calcium batteries: it is important to choose a model with acceptable parameters of favorable voltage and flexible setting of the charging current. And, of course, it is impossible not to mention a separate class of devices called “start-up chargers”. They are designed not only for charging the battery, but also for starting the engine when the battery “failed” before frosts. We wrote about them at the link above.
Choosing a good charger for the price
The cost of the charger depends on the design, operating range, permissible deviation from the rated current and voltage, brand and warranty service conditions. Some manufacturers take responsibility for the failure of the battery and compensate for losses if the failure was caused by a malfunction in the charger. Others attract customers with advanced functionality: a system for dynamic voltage regulation, starting and stopping the charge on a timer, means for diagnosing the state of the battery, etc. There are 5 price segments on the Russian market, each of which has its own functional and design features.
Low-cost devices (up to 2500 rubles)
Models of this category are characterized by the absence of electronic components: the power parameters are regulated by conventional potentiometers or multi-position switches, and a lamp and arrow indication is used to display the charging status, less often an eight-segment display. Nevertheless, budget models meet the minimum safety requirements and are suitable for continuous use with at least one battery class. Two models up to 2500 rubles are popular in Russia:
- Orion PW-265. Easy to use: just connect the battery, set the charging current and apply power. It is equipped with a smooth manual current regulator and a dial ammeter. Operating current range: 0.4-6 A, which allows you to charge batteries with a capacity of up to 60 Ah. Minus of the device: the fixed output voltage makes the Orion only suitable for charging hybrid and legacy antimony models with a 12 V rating.;
- AVS Energy BT-6005 SMART. The device has a digital display and a step controller for selecting the charging mode. The current strength can take 3 values in the range from 2 to 6 A, the maximum effective charging capacity is 80 Ah. Advantage of the model: the presence of a protected connector that stops the current supply in case of overload in the network. It works with 12 and 6 V ratings, allowing you to charge hybrid car and motorcycle accumulators.
Models of category 2500-5000 rubles
Chargers up to 5000 mainly belong to the transformer type, which means that they have large dimensions in comparison with budget models. Controls and functionality are limited to the required minimum, but the power range for such charges is higher and covers several battery classes. Popular models:
- Wester CH15. An inexpensive universal charger for car batteries. Main feature: switch between two load modes: rated 12 and 24 V. The current range is limited to two values: 5 and 11 V, and thanks to the protected power port, stable operation is guaranteed for batteries with a capacity from 25 to 105 Ah! Perfect choice for most cars and trucks. Equipped with an arrow ammeter.
- Zubr Profi 59305. Functionally corresponds to representatives of the middle class of chargers. Supports power supply mode with rated voltage of 6, 12 and 24 V, i.e. compatible with the battery of most vehicles. Equipped with an intelligent charging current selection system for batteries from 2 to 240 Ah. The maximum current is 11 A. The digital display shows the readings of the built-in voltmeter and ammeter, the output port is equipped with two-phase overload protection. Nice bonus: built-in cigarette lighter.
Middle class (5000-7500 rubles)
Chargers of this class are distinguished by advanced functionality and a wide range of output voltage. Pulse models are characterized by a high charging current, which allows you to work with a battery with a capacity of more than 200 Ah. The leaders on the market in the price range of 5000 — 7000 p:
- Quattro Elementi i-Charge 20. A powerful device designed for truck and passenger car batteries. It is capable of delivering up to 20 A of output current at a voltage of 12/24 V. Disadvantages: relative bulkiness (weighs 2 kg) and a small capacity limit of 140 Ah for the middle class. It has a system of light indicators and a secure port.
- Daewoo DW1500. A budget device with intelligent multi-level overload protection. Supports a 6/12/24 V battery. It has a desulfurization function: with the help of a pulsed voltage change, the ratio of lead ions on the battery plates changes, which leads to the restoration of the original properties of the battery. The DW1500 model has most of the features of premium chargers: smooth load control for gel batteries, a tester, a voltammeter, and an automatic load shutdown system when the battery is fully charged. The Daewoo line is popular among heavy truck drivers because of its high charging current. Daewoo DW1500 is tested and recommended in practice for batteries from 20 to 300 Ah capacity.
Advantages of expensive models in the 7500 — 10,000 R category
The high price of chargers of well-known car brands, such as OptiMate, is associated with rich functionality and extended warranty conditions. At the same time, the device is not necessarily universal: most models are focused on passenger cars with a 12 V battery. Well-known representatives of the category up to 10,000 rubles:
- BlueWeld Polarboost 140. A simple but powerful charger for passenger car batteries operating with a voltage of 12 V. It has a record high charging current of 50 A and is suitable for batteries from 10 to 200 Ah. The functionality is limited to the gentle charging mode with auto-off and overload protection. The current is adjusted manually by means of a two-position switch. It is equipped with an arrow indicator of the charging current and a built-in wire with replaceable crocodile connectors.
- OptiMate TM-190. Portable pulse charger with intelligent power supply system. With a current of only 5 A, the TM-190 is effective for charging up to 240 Ah batteries, but only works with a 12 V rating, including gel batteries. Advantages: smooth automatic current adjustment, built-in diagnostic tools and “storage mode” for cleaning unused batteries from plaque. For batteries worn out during cold start-up, the “winter charging” mode is available with a gradually increasing current strength and automatic power off when the set charge level is reached.
Premium chargers (more than 10,000 rubles)
Premium models combine the advantages of chargers of other price categories with extreme versatility: support for batteries with a capacity of more than 300 Ah and intelligent current monitoring are typical for all 10,000+ models in Russia. Leaders in the number of sales and technical characteristics:
- OptiMate TM-260. Compact pulse-type model with low power consumption and a wide battery range: 12/24 V models of any type with a capacity of up to 400 Ah are supported. Diagnostic and desulfation tools, a safe charging mode and a built-in digital voltammeter in the kilogram model fully justify its cost.
- CTEK PRO 60. Charger for 12 V hybrid and gel batteries with maximum power, current and capacity range. Consuming almost a kilowatt of power, the CTEK PRO delivers 60 A at the output and is successfully used to charge batteries up to 1400 Ah used in expensive sports cars and trucks. It has a standard set of functions and indicators for the premium class representative.
The choice of charger should be based primarily on the power parameters of the car battery. If you choose the cheaper one among all the suitable models, you lose a number of useful functions, such as intelligent power supply and desulfation. However, for hybrid batteries with a small capacity, a basic set of functions may be sufficient, if you follow all the rules for using the battery.
* Please note that the article is informational in nature and is not an advertisement for the products presented. The results of the rating are subjective to the authors of the article.